by Gigi Guizado
mirror, metaphor, opportunity
reflect on life questions
After Bozeman Deaconess Spiritual Care, “Walking The Labyrinth”, 2022, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital
By Attila Budaházi
2007 június 3-án délelőtt, kevéssel azután, hogy a tévé bemondta a híres színész, Darvas Iván halálát, az Orczy út egyik járdaszigetén, az Elnök utcai megállóban éppen hátat fordított az érkező villamosnak, és az még mindig igen nagy lendülettel, pusztán néhány milliméterre suhant el a vállától. A fiú egy pillanatra megdermedt a gondolattól, hogy milyen kevésen múlott.
Az évek során, időről időre eszébe jutott ez a pillanat, néha azt vizsgálta, hogy él-e még? Nem lehetséges vajon, hogy valójában elkaszálta az a villamos ott és akkor, de mivel félt belátni, hogy meghalt, még mindig úgy kalandozik valami köztes térben, mintha élne?
2019 április 7-én, vasárnap, ebédszünet után visszatért az egyik hotelszobába, hogy folytassa a takarítást. Az ebéd és a napi első cigi mindig kissé szürreális közérzetbe kényszerítették. Ezen a vasárnapon kimondottan hűvös volt és szemerkélt az eső. Az ablak résnyire nyitva volt egész ebédszünet alatt, de a fűtés ellensúlyozta a beáradó hideget. Nekifogott, hogy megvesse az ágyat, amikor egyszer csak odakintről, tökéletes tisztasággal, élesen felhangzott Tarzan összetéveszthetetlen dzsungeli kiáltása. A fiú az ablakhoz ment. Az épületek közé lelógó, az égben eltűnő liánokon, egyikről a másikra csimpaszkodva haladt Tarzan, azaz Johnny Weissmuller. És igen: az egész látvány fekete-fehér volt.
Minden, ami aznap odáig történt, teljesen reálisnak tűnt, így egyáltalán nem volt ésszerű, hogy álmodna. Pedig ez lehetett volna az egyik teljesen kézenfekvő magyarázat és ahogy lenni szokott, következő lépésként fel lehetett volna ébredni. De nem ez történt. Megint kinézett az ablakon és most már a sötétrózsaszín égbolton egy idegen város felhőkarcolói között száguldott Tarzan, liánról liánra, egyre kétségbeesettebben. Világvége érzés futott át a fiún. Érezte, eljött az idő, színt kell vallani. Az ajtó felé fordult, de ott nem volt ajtó már. Egy szürkén örvénylő füst-alagút tátongott helyette.
Bárhogy erőltette, nem emlékezett rá, mikor halt meg. Most? Évekkel korábban? Nem lebbent fel a fátyol semmilyen
elrejtett emlékről. Ott állt, szemben az örvénnyel, érezte, ahogy egyre nagyobb széllökések érik az arcát.
2023 tavasza volt. A vonatablakon befújt a szél. Egy pillanatra kinyitotta szemeit majd lehunyta ismét.
On the morning of June 3, 2007, shortly after the death of the famous actor Iván Darvas was announced on television, he was turning his back on an oncoming tram at the President St stop on a traffic island in Orczy Street, which,still having great momentum, whooshed just a few millimeters away from his left shoulder. For a moment, the boy froze at the thought of the close call..
Over the years he would recall this moment once in a while, wondering if he was still alive. Could it be possible that he had actually been killed by that tram, but because he was too afraid to admit that he was dead, he was still wandering in an in-between space pretending to be alive?
On Sunday 7 April 2019, after lunch break, he returned to one of the hotel rooms to continue cleaning. Lunch and his first cigarette of the day always left him feeling a little way-out. It was a particularly chilly and drizzling Sunday. The window was left wide open throughout the lunch break, but the heater compensated for the incoming chill. He reached over to make the bed, when suddenly, from outside, in perfect clarity, came the unmistakable jungle cry of Tarzan. He stepped up to the window. Tarzan, alias Johnny Weissmuller, was dangling on the lianas hung between the buildings with their upper ends pinned above the horizon. And yes: the whole scenery was black and white.
Everything that had happened up to that point in the day seemed completely real, so it was not at all reasonable to think he was dreaming. Yet that would have been one perfectly obvious explanation and, as usual, the next step would have been to wake up. But that was not what happened. He looked out of the window again and now Tarzan was racing across the dark pink sky between the skyscrapers of an unknown city, liana by liana, growing more and more desperate. A sense of the end of the world ran through the boy. He felt the time had come, the time to face what he couldn’t. He turned to the door, but there was no door. Instead, a tunnel of swirling gray smoke.
Try as he might, he couldn’t remember when he died. Just right now? Years before? He could not lift the veil off any related memories. He stood there, facing this vortex, feeling increasingly stronger gusts of wind against his face.
It was the spring of 2023, the wind blew through the window of the train.
He opened his eyes for a moment, then he closed them again.
By Nikolett Pataki
– This is it, can’t wait to move in! What’s that face?
– I’m really not sure what I want anymore.
– What do you mean? The contract is here, we paid for the solicitors and this place ticks most of our boxes from the list! We took it slowly, I agreed to be patient with you and we had 6 months to change our mind. Are you listening to me at all?
– Yes, I know it all, my mind knows it all. It’s just my heart.
– What about it? Talk to me!
– I can’t do it.
– Do what? What can you not do exactly?
– This whole thing, moving in with you, buying a house, settling down, having a normal life…
– But that’s what we did so far! We were basically living together and that’s how we came to this conclusion, don’t you remember?
– I do. It’s just, I can’t force myself
– You don’t have to, it’s step by step, a slow process and this is the last bit
– Yes but if we sign this we need to be in for at least 25 years.
– I thought that’s what you wanted, to be together for even more time than that?
– Yes, if it’s now.
– What do you mean?
– I mean if we don’t take time into account just flowing through life, you know like rowing your boat.
– Down the stream, don’t start again!
– I’m sorry. I just can’t do it.
– Is it still the abyss?
– Yes. It’s heavy.
– It’s okay, I just, I just think stability actually would help.
– Maybe not, maybe nothing can help.
– Don’t say that, you haven’t had any episodes for –
– For 13 months, I know. And I really appreciate your presence in my life. I just can’t give you that cheerful easy going person you deserve and I used to be.
– Don’t say that, I love you just the way you are!
– Blah, blah, blah.
– OK, listen, it’s not just you in this, okay, I’m here too! And we, together, did this so far and got here and made the list and –
– I don’t care, I’m sorry.
– What? You can’t be serious!
– Listen, you did beyond imagination and I can’t be grateful enough to you. But this whole buying-a-house process somehow made me realise that this is not what I want
– Ok, so you want another –
– No, I don’t want another house or any house. I want myself!
– But I thought –
– No, listen to me! With you I was the traumatised person who needed extra care, I don’t want that anymore, I don’t want the need for special treatment and I don’t want always to be reminded how lucky I am with you.
– But –
– I know you never say this but you make me feel like it! And no, please do not try to understand, that’s exactly what I hate. Just leave me the f*ck alone.
– Wow! I really don’t know what to say now –
– Nothing, there’s no need to say anything. Just please let me go.
– You were always free, you don’t owe me anything.
– Please don’t make this hard!
– I’m not. I was just hoping that one day you’d see that.
– See what?
– What do you mean?
– Listen, this whole story has been around you all the time, your trauma, your anxiety, your studies and –
– See that’s what I mean, I’m broken!
– No, you’re not! Not more than any other person on this bloody planet
– Yes, and I think you need to hear that and get out of your head and
– And what ?
– Listen, I know what you’re trying to do here and it won’t work. I know how to fight for you yet I’m ready to let you go. You need to make a decision now. Not about the house or me or even us, but yourself. You need that, and this is all in you!
– OK what?
– I understand, just please don’t make me speak now. Can you hug me, please?
by Rita Sebestyen
There is lipstick on the glass.
Streetwalker is thirsty.
But there is lipstick on the brim of the glass, and there is a black smidgen floating on the top of the water in there.
‘Can you please print me the catalogue of the other flat, too? You know, the one you said I might also be interested in.’
The agent is very unhappy with all these special requests. First the cup of water and now the catalogues to be printed. The agent struggles with Streetwalker’s accent, too. The agent does not want to struggle.
Wide windows filled with pictures of derelict houses on sale.
Two patrols are passing by on their horses.
‘This is the worst time, really’ the agent sparks a conversation, ‘The day of the match.’
‘Yeah’ Streetwalker cannot raise their eyes from the water tightly embraced by that dirty-lipstick-y glass, burdened with the black morsel like a mouldy cherry on the top of the cake in a twisted tale. The water, the one that could bring some sweet relief, is imprisoned in between.
The agent gathers that there will be no quiet, no peace until some service is given.
‘So, the second one… you have not seen that yet… that can be converted into a two-bedroom flat.’
The water sits unnerved in the dirt. Catch me if you can.
‘I can call you when it’s available for viewing.’
‘Right,’ Streetwalker has reached to a decision. ‘Call me when the owner is ready.’ Deep sigh. One long step to the door. ‘Bye.’
‘The water!’ yells the agent with a suddenly risen hospitality.
Streetwalker shut the door behind their back, ‘No thanks’.
I started deliberately using the scenery while I was living – for twenty-five years – in a house overlooking the edge of the town and its surrounding hills. I sipped my morning tea looking out, preparing for the day with the view as backdrop, contemplated problems on the balcony, where I had most meals with family and friends. And that was the place I set off from to explore more expansive vistas and the people inhabiting them, as I was sure one would have very different views on life – sorry for the pun – depending on what you can rest your eyes on daily basis.
Robert Macfarlane in his book The Old Ways, where he recounts his many walks criss-crossing the British Isles, quotes Nan Shepherd who, through exchanges between her and her beloved mountains, the Scottish Cairngorm, “understood herself in some way thought by place.” This notion is not difficult to imagine if we regard the word ‘landscape’, as Macfarlane does, “a noun with a hidden verb: landscape scapes, it is dynamic and commotion causing, it sculpts and shapes us not only over the courses of our lives but also instant by instant, incident by incident.”
Intuitively we have known for centuries that the colour green, the sight of flora and fauna all have calming effects and by now a whole new branch of enquiries, called environmental psychology, has been developed to study the phenomenon and how it can be utilised in city design. With the advance of neuroscience, we are beginning to understand the mechanism as well.
One theme, however, I yet to find contemplation or research on: the effect of not what but how far we can see and the interaction of the two. The joy of seeing the horizon, as one of the prisoners I worked with on the Hungarian prison radio put it: “Every day I wait with anticipation for the few steps in the walk down to our workplace. As we turn the corner, suddenly my eyes can escape and I with it to travel far-far across the river to the place where the mountains shed their cloaks of mist. I feel there is a chance for a new beginning.”
Robert Macfarlane (2013), The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Penguin.
Nan Shepherd (2011), The Living Mountain (Canons): A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland, Canongate Books Ltd, first published 1977.
Tired as withered leaves on frosted trees
Blue as wide sky awash in white
Determined as native grass reaching for golden rays
We both know this season will pass
Judit Hajdu. Hungarian psychotherapist living in Scotland. Interested in the narratives of people, marginalised or in authority, living ‘everyday’ or ‘exciting’ lives, including prisoners who are always left out of most lists.
Gigi Guizado. Bilingual American actor, literary translator, poet working in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and London. Feminism, mental health, and cultural diversity are themes in her work.
Nikolett Pataki. Hungarian expat living in the UK. A curious mind with some background in sociology and psychology. Experienced in charity work and research.
Attila Budaházi. Edinburgh based dramaturg, theatre director, story shaper. Works with hidden connections and stories behind the real world, beneath the surface, parallel realities, dreamscape, multiverse, time travel, and butterfly effect.
Rita Sebestyén. Has lived in Romania, Hungary, Denmark and the UK. Works with object-based storytelling, modelling sustainable societies, and community creation.
PERFORMANCE – WORKSHOP – RESEARCH
Othernessproject cooperates in various artistic and research environments internationally. Our partners reside in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, the UK, Montenegro, and the spectrum is getting larger every year.
Our installation-performance, IF, developed with the action research methodology, invited to several festivals across Europe: Bådteatret, CPH / Actor Training in a Globalised World, CPH /Altofest, Naples (IT) / International Time Perspective Conference, Nantes (FR) / Passage Festival, Helsingor-Helsingborg (DK-SE) / Bridges Festival, Cluj-Napoca (RO) / Rahvusvahekine A-Festival (ET).
From 2019, othernessproject relocated to London, UK, as a grass root organisation, and has become a member of the prestigious publib directory in 2020: https://www.publib.co.uk/othernessproject, having participants from the UK, China, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, the US.
Between 2014-2019 othernessproject was based in Helsingør, Denmark, with a core group of artists and researchers residing in Nordic countries: Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
artistic director: Rita Sebestyen (RO/HU/DK/UK)
performer: Minni Katina Mertens (NO/DK)
performer: Sara Vilardo (IT/BE/DK)
light- and sound designer: Ivan Wahren (SE)
EU-project manager: Stine Ebbesen (DK)
dramaturge: Mira Nadina Mertens (NO/DK)
social media editor: Nora Ugron (RO/FI)
BY GIGI GUIZADO.
Link to the event: click here.
The event on the 25th September 2021 was part of the official selection of the International Translation Day by the English PEN and the National Centre for Writing.
Conception: Rita Sebestyen and Gigi Guizado.
This is a short and semantically multi-layered play which tackles gender and power-issues in a situation set on the verge of the post Anthropocene world. In spite of the grim topic, the irony and the possible plot-twists will save us from immersing ourselves into dystopia.
The intrinsic complexity of the piece does not stop at simply tackling the stereotypes of our societies, but also mischievously plays with the possibilities of swapping roles, until the very end. The last couple of seconds are left open to the readers’/spectators’ interpretation as well.
We found it especially intriguing to have the piece translated from English into Hungarian and see how different cultures, languages, conceptions, ages, genders will affect this endless game of fascinatingly diverse interpretations.
Just a couple of questions that occurred during the English and Hungarian rehearsed readings and open discussions at the event:
For a full-rounded cultural and linguistic experience, we kindly advise you to watch both the Hungarian and English versions, and taste the exquisite palette of the re-framing and interpretation of the artists.
We are all looking forward to reserching further approaches, re-readings, interpretations, translations and designs of this piece.
Translation by: Rita Sebestyén.
Following the positive responses of our International Translation Day event, also the manifold possible interpretations of the text, we managed to arrange a second event, where further gender, age, culture and language-related nuances came to the forefront.
This time we discussed how non-binary cast might affect the language and the socio-cultural representation and interpretation of the same text.
Spanish is a gendered language – along with many other Romance Languages -, where substantives and pronouns have defined binary expressions for centuries. As opposed to the English gender-neutral pronoun ‘they’, which is already existent in the language, in Spanish the ending X, with its different pronunciations, are new addenda to the common language and its use requires constant attention from the part of the speaker or writer.
We also observed how changing certain aspects and angles of the interpretation, such as cultural background, language, gender, age will always lead to certain dichotomies and power-unbalances. However, approaching the text, the situation and the characters from a more generic, non-hierarchal and de-colonial point of view, we see how any kind of othering leads to a new power-struggle, leading to a multiplication of the colonial structure. A new, all-encompassing socio-cultural structure would be needed to reframe these dichotomies into eye-level dialogues.
Cast performing in Spanish:
Translation by: Gigi Guizado.
‘IF’: Planning, Research and Co-creation of an Existential Installation-performance
See full art and science research article: https://sciendo.com/article/10.2478/hsy-2019-0005#
ABSTRACT: In her article “‘IF’: Planning, Research and Co-creation of an Existential Installa-tion-performance” Rita Sebestyén offers an account of the research period and perfor-mances of the experimental, action-research based and interdisciplinary performance ‘IF’. The installation-performance was co-created by a group of Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Hungarian artists, and conceived and produced for an international au-dience. ‘IF’ poses a series of existential questions throughout four interactive installa-tions that allow the audience to interact and become co-creators of the performance, together with the performer-facilitator. Using biology, anthropology, mathematics, elements of gamification, sociology and futurology, this performance is a cross-dis-ciplinary and cross-genre experience, and its research cycles are of both scientific and artistic interest, as the author points it out. Keywords: art and science, performative pedagogy, gamification, co-creation, action research.
IF is a cross-over genre: a participative performance using four interac-tive installations that invite the audience into different levels of action and interaction, by choosing life-circumstances: gender, lifespan, friends, relations, society and future. A performer leads the whole game of ex-istence, orientating the audience among the rules of the games; reacts and responds to their actions, and, at well-defined moments, acts out roles related to the four stages-installations. The stages are construct-ed around four different algorithms, which gradually lead the audience from strict rules to choices, this way giving the opportunity to them to take the performance over, step by step. Participants can choose at each stage the level of their activity from watching to acting, and can de-cide on the gender, lifespan, personal characteristics. They receive small human figures as avatars to represent their game-selves in this parallel world. In this specific space, the audience and the performer, even the light- and sound designer can freely mingle, without being confined by the classical partition of stage and auditorium. The first stage is a small laboratory: a microscope placed on a white glass table and connected to a computer. The samples placed under the microscope can be observed magnified on the screen of the computer. The second stage is a min-iature garden on a big size round mirror: soil, small stones, water and plants can be placed and arranged on it. Later on, the five-six centime-tres tall human figures will be placed here. The third stage seems to be a playground with five societal hardships, written in chalk on the ground, which, during the performance, will come alive similarly to a manipu-lative TV-show, with red and white elastic lightbulbs. The fourth stage is a transparent plastic cube, filled with water. Here, at the end of the game-performance, the participants will decide how and who can be saved from the former hardships and go towards the hope of smoother waves. We provide the audience with a set of rules at each stage to build a parallel identity, community, society, and their own interwoven nar-ratives. The performer oscillates between the role of an actor and that of a facilitator. From this phase we started researching together with various audiences. Due to the multitude of artistic and scientific fields included in our work, in the following I will refer exclusively to prima-ry literature. Further description proceeds along the following steps: 1) Research environment concerning venue, community, terminology and the text of the performance, 2) Research method including planning, action and evaluation and finally, 3) The outlook towards a new episte-mology of collaborative performances.